Social Media Do’s & Don’ts during Divorce & Custody Actions

The Do's:

  • Be Selective
    • It is okay to only accept Facebook friends that you actually know; don't accept every request that you get.
  • Model Good Behavior & Be Positive
    • Online activity leaves a permanent mark; consider your social media account a future lesson for your children. They may not have access to it now, but in the future they will be able to access it. Comment encouraging words and draft posts that are sure to make people smile. Practice positivity through your impulsive activity.
  • Draft First
    • Give considerable thought to your words before making a post. Draft a prospective post and think about it for 24 hours before actually posting.
  • Change Privacy Settings
    • Privacy is a loose term - it is not perfect, but it is better than nothing. Social media outlets are NOT private to begin with, but not everyone with access to these outlets should be able to see everything that you post. Privacy settings won't protect you in every scenario, but you can control who sees what posts and how far out it extends.
  • Use Our Family Wizard
    • Keep all communications with opposing parties in writing and ask to keep discussions limited to the children. Keep correspondence polite and to the point. Demonstrate a track record of friendly and effective communications through Our Family Wizard, as opposed to social media outlets.
  • Save Posts and Conversations
    • Instead of seeking revenge to a social media post that could hurt the other party in a custody case, preserve the evidence. Take a screen shot of the post and save it in your smart phone.
  • Watch What Friends/Family Post
    • Your social media presence is not solely under your control. Friends and family can post about you in ways that are compromising. Your page will not be the only page that is going to be searched.
  • Monitor Children
    • If children are old enough to know how to use a computer then there is a substantial need to monitor their computer access, since this can become a major issue. Children may be exposed to illegal or questionable internet material, such as pornography or drug related internet content, while in your custody.

The Don'ts

  • Don't Delete
    • Do not delete previous posts or deactivate account due to fear that the post may be used against you or to hide something potentially damaging. You may be accused of deleting evidence that should not have been deleted (spoliation).
    • If you already deleted something you should not have, tell your lawyer! It is better to plan accordingly than to be blindsided.
  • Don't Rant
    • Do not vent all of your problems online or "air your dirty laundry" on social media outlets. Let it all out during the next happy hour with your buds or in an email to your lawyer.
  • Don't Post if Illegal or Questionable
    • Do NOT post pictures of drug paraphernalia or talk about political positions on legalization of drugs, such as marijuana. It is your legal right, but it is not a good idea to discuss on social media outlets. Posts such as these may be used to question decision-making or result in a court-ordered drug test.
  • Pictures "Wining & Dining" New Significant Other
    • Spending marital money on an extramarital relationship may financially hurt your ongoing divorce and unresolved property case.
  • Don's Post Negativity about other Parties
    • A facebook post complaining about children not being respectful or a tweet about the ex may seem innocent, but the intentions in your mind and in the Judge's mind are two completely separate entities. The other side can spin the post or tweet to make you look vindictive or unappreciative and you suddenly look like a bad spouse or parent. Do not excessively bad mouth the other parent on social media.
  • Don't Brag
    • Social media is mainly used for keeping friends and family up to date about life events like new job promotions, fancy vacations, or new cars. Do not brag about a recent extravagant trip or vacation, while on the other hand complaining about paying too much in child or spousal support. Bragging could result in an increase in support obligations.
  • Don't Call Character into Question
    • Do not let your character be questioned by bad mouthing individuals in authority, avoid foul language and name calling of any persons, and do not post discriminatory comments concerning race/religion or gender.
  • Don't Overshare
    • Parent's behavior on social media can directly impact kids emotionally and effect divorce and custody. Refrain from posting about alcohol or attending parties, sharing private family or lifestyle information, provocative pictures, and jokes concerning the Judge or the opposing lawyer.

    The best route is to limit social media involvement altogether during ongoing cases. You should assume that everything you do online is able to be found at some point or another. Always consider all possible ways that your post can be manipulated against you in court before submitting it online. A good test is whether you would be okay with showing a particular post to your conservative grandmother or your employer.

  • A simple post like, "Long day, empty refrigerator, and no time to go grocery shopping... Guess we're eating fast food tonight," may be used to argue neglect of your children.
  • Your Instagram picture of your extravagant tropical vacation may be used to argue that you have the ability to pay more for child or spousal support.
  • Your Tweet about your much-needed night out may blow your cover when you claimed you were ill and unable to watch the kids.
  • A picture of you smoking cigarettes or drinking a beer at a neighborhood barbecue with your kids may be used to demonstrate that you expose the children to secondhand smoke and care for your children while under the influence of alcohol.